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Tempting fate

11 May 2010

The Binyam Mohamed blip is still on Lord Neuberger's mind. Among the many topics he could have chosen to bring gravitas to a seemingly light-hearted speech about the role of the Master of the Rolls, he chose the much-maligned paragraph 168 of his ruling in the case brought by the former Guantanamo Bay detainee against MI5.

Of course, Lord Neuberger has stood up for civil liberties before. He has spoken against the questionable use of the law by governments eager to push an anti-terrorist agenda. On this occasion, however — a pre-dinner speech at Lincoln's Inn — he was not openly out to make a point. The reference to the Binyam Mohamed case was, it seemed, a prop to review the role of the MR since its inception in the 13th century and its relevance to modern day governments.

What makes you pause in this particular instance is the timing. The speech was made on Monday night, four days after the election. By this time, the Lib/Con deal is looking a bit uncertain and it ...

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